Eton Sponsors School With Tuition Paid by U.K. Government

Eton College, the English private school that educated 19 U.K. prime ministers, is founding a tuition-free school that will include spots for disadvantaged children.

Holyport College will open in September 2014 and grow to 500 boarding and day students on a campus about eight miles from Eton, based in Windsor, according to a statement on Eton’s website. Eton will be “the sole educational sponsor” and its administrators and teachers will fill six of the 10 seats on the interim governing board, according to the Holyport website. While Eton only admits boys, Holyport will be co-educational.

Holyport is a free school, a U.K. educational category created in 2010 that lets private institutions found schools that receive public funding. Day students at Holyport won’t pay tuition, while boarders will pay a fee. The average cost for boarders at U.K. free schools is about 11,000 pounds ($17,393) a year, according to Oliver Lane, a spokesman for the Department of Education. The cost to attend Eton is about 32,000 pounds a year.

“It’s the right thing to do,” said Tony Little, headmaster of Eton, in a phone interview. “As a school, we have taken the view that the educational benefits of Eton should be available outside the walls of the school where it’s practical and sustainable to do so.”

49 Scholarships

Eton has run summers schools on its campus for 25 years and is one of the founders of the London Academy of Excellence, a free school in east London, with seven other private schools. At Holyport, Eton will be a long-term partner, Little said.

“We take responsibility for the curriculum, we take responsibility for the quality of the provisions of boarding, and we will take responsibility for appointing the head,” Little said.

There will be 49 scholarships for low-income students and for children in foster care or otherwise not looked after by their parents, Lane said.

Eton College was founded in 1440 by King Henry VI. Former students have included the Duke of Wellington, John Maynard Keynes and Prime Minister David Cameron. Over a three-year period ended in 2009, 211 Eton graduates were accepted at the University of Oxford or the University of Cambridge, the second-highest total of any U.K. school, according to a study by the Sutton Trust, a nonprofit organization.

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